Over the course of 2016, arbitral institutions around the globe have published their case load statistics for 2015. Like last year, Global Arbitration News has compiled the new case numbers from eleven arbitral institutions. They paint the following picture: the total number of arbitrations continues to grow. CIETAC and the ICDR continue to be the two leading arbitration institutions in the world as far as sheer numbers are concerned:

2012 2013 2014 2015
ICC[1]

(International Chamber of Commerce)

759 767 791 801
DIS[2]

(German Institution of Arbitration)

121 121 132 134
SCC[3]

(Stockholm Chamber of Commerce)

177 203 183 181
VIAC[4]

(Vienna International Arbitration Center)

70 56 56 40
SCAI[5]

(Swiss Chamber’s Arbitration Institution)

92 68 105 100
LCIA[6]

(London Court of International Arbitration)

277 301 296 326
ICDR[7]

(International Centre for Dispute Resolution)

996 1165 1052 1063
SIAC[8]

(Singapore International Arbitration Centre)

235 259 222 271
CIETAC[9]

(China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission)

1060 1256 1610 1968
HKIAC[10]

(Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre)

293 260 252 271
ICSID[11]

(International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes)

50 40 38 52
Total 4130 4496 4737 5207

What the 2015 Numbers Tell Us

The overall numbers reflect three trends:

Firstly, arbitration is en vogue. The case numbers in arbitration continue to grow. The eleven institutions selected for this article registered 5207 new arbitration cases in 2015 compared to 4737 cases in 2014. That is an increase in 470 cases or 9.9 %. Only three out of the eleven arbitral institutions have posted declining numbers: The Swiss Chamber’s Arbitration Institution has registered only slightly less cases than in 2014. The Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has published slightly declining case numbers for the second year in a row. However, the Vienna International Arbitration Center has seen a more steady fade away of newly registered cases for the third year in a row.

Secondly, arbitration case numbers in Asia continue to grow steeply. While the total number of new commercial arbitrations administered by the “Western” arbitral institutions[12] rose by only 30, the total number of Asian arbitrations rose by 426 compared to 2014. Still, this impressive increase most likely does not represent a shift of arbitration cases towards Asian institutions because also non-Asian institutions have never registered more new cases before. Most probably, parties chose arbitration in Asia instead of litigation in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian countries.

Thirdly, the field of investment arbitration also continues to grow. As we have predicted in last year’s analysis, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes has posted a record of 52 new cases in 2015. It remains to be seen, however, whether this reflects a trend or rather a unique event due to the subsidy cuts for solar energy companies announced by the governments in Spain and Italy. Most of the new cases (18) were brought against Western European States, with Spain being the respondent in 15 and Italy being the respondent in 3 cases.[13] Almost all cases against Spain and Italy deal with the above mentioned subsidy cuts for solar companies.

Spotlight on Asia

As already noted, from the 470 cases more for 2015, 426 were registered with Asian arbitral institutions alone. The number of new CIETAC cases has almost doubled in three years from 1060 new cases in 2012 to 1968 new cases in 2015. These numbers underscore CIETAC’s growing importance in the field of arbitration.

Ironically, the two arbitral institutions competing for high-profile arbitrations in Asia, Singapore’s SIAC and Hong Kong’s HKIAC, have posted identical new case numbers for 2015 with 271 new cases each. However, the HKIAC administers cases with a larger total amount in dispute – HKIAC’s approximately USD 6.2 billion in dispute compare to the SIAC’s approximately USD 4.36 billion in dispute.[14] HKIAC seems to be the top choice in Asia for high value cases.

Female Arbitrators

It has to be welcomed that for 2015, the ICC and the SCAI have followed suit with the LCIA and have started to publish the percentage of female arbitrators in their arbitral tribunals:

2012 2013 2014 2015
ICC[15] 10%
LCIA[16] 9,6% 11,5% 11,7% 16%
SCAI (Court Appointed)[17] 47%
SCAI (Appointed by Parties or Co-Arbitrators)[18] 5%

HKIAC, an institution chaired by a woman, Teresa Cheng, SC, only provides an absolute number: In 2015, female arbitrators received 16 appointments.

Arbitral tribunals are far from being equally staffed by male and female arbitrators. However, the numbers provided by the LCIA show that the percentage of female arbitrators is – although slowly – growing. In SCAI arbitrations, 47% of arbitrators appointed by the Court were female, in contrast to the 5% of female arbitrators when they were appointed by the parties or by co-arbitrators.

Those numbers contrast with the fact that two women are the most appointed arbitrators in investment treaty arbitrations, with Brigitte Stern being the most appointed and Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler the second most appointed arbitrator.[19] Kaufmann-Kohler was even named the most influential arbitrator in investment treaty arbitration overall.[20] Although the two women occupied the two top steps in the Top 10 of the most appointed arbitrators in investment treaty arbitrations, it has to be noted that they were accompanied by eight men, with no other women appearing in the table.[21] For 2016, we expect that more arbitral institutions will publish the percentage of female arbitrators in their arbitral tribunals.